Viva Voce Examination
A viva voce examination is a normal requirement of the examination of a Ph.D. candidate. For a Masters examination a viva voce will be arranged at the request of either examiner or the Director of Teaching and Learning (Postgraduate). Requests from the candidate for a viva voce will be considered by the Dean of Graduate Studies. It is the Internal Examiner’s responsibility, in conjunction with the School administrative staff and Director of Teaching and Learning (Postgraduate), to arrange the date of, and accommodation for, the viva voce. While there is no specified length for a viva voce examination, when examination exceeds 2.5 hours the Chair should offer the student and examiners a comfort break of 10 minutes. When examiners propose either failure, or referral of a thesis for revision, they must hold a viva voce examination. See section II.47 Procedure for examination of a candidate of Calendar Part III.
How to Prepare for your Viva Voce?
- Familiarize yourself with the regulations and policies governing the operations of viva voce examinations.
- Familiarize yourself with your School’s guidelines for the conduct of the viva voce examinations.
- Understand the structure of the viva voce.
- Get familiar with the space in which your viva will take place.
- Review the Thesis.
- Practice mock viva voce sessions.
- Anticipate potential questions.
- Reach out to the fellow students who have recently gone through the viva voce examination.
- Avail of viva voce specific training opportunities or engage in a peer support group.
Ensure you are familiar of the regulations and policies governing the operations of viva voce examinations. In the first instance, you would be advised to read over both the college Calendar Part III rules in relation to viva voce examinations, and any relevant policies e.g. External Examiners Policy
Schools may have specific local information and guidelines specific to the way in which a viva operates in your School. Review these guidelines thoroughly to understand the process, duration, and expectations of the examination. Speak either to your supervisor or to the Director of Postgraduate Teaching and Learning in your School, so that you can be confident, on the day of the viva that you are absolutely clear as to the mechanics of what awaits you.
The structure of your viva depends on the norms within your School or Discipline. In some disciplines, the viva has two component parts. First, the candidate delivers a presentation on their work. The exact form and nature of this presentation is discipline specific — and so you should seek advice from your School in relation to this. Where presentation is the norm, you will be giving a presentation of your research, highlighting the key objectives, methodologies, and findings.The second part (or, in many disciplines, the only part) is the defence itself, which entails an in-depth discussion with the examination panel.
If your viva involves a presentation, check in advance if the projector colours and computer types are compatible with your presentation. Ensure that the sound system, videos and any animations will work. Some experts recommend that you try to spend some time in the room and to imagine defending the thesis there.
You are expected first and foremost to be so thoroughly familiar with your work, that you can discuss it expertly and answer deep and probing questions in relation to both the scholarship and the arguments contained therein. Thoroughly review your thesis and be prepared to defend each chapter, including your research design, methodology, results, and interpretation. Familiarize yourself with the key literature in your field and be prepared to discuss the broader implications of your work.
Ask colleagues, your peers or your supervisor to have a mock of the thesis defence to stimulate the real examination environment. Practice your talk many times and in front of others, making sure the timing of your presentation is well organized. The mock viva exams will help you gain confidence, refine your answers, and identify any gaps in your knowledge.
Reviewing your thesis and reflecting on your research will help you gain a deeper level of insight into what is contained in the written work and also, will help you identify any gaps or areas of inquiry. This is important as often, the questions the examination panel may ask often focus on such gaps or shortcomings. Prepare responses to these questions and consider seeking input from your supervisor(s) or other research students to help anticipate possible challenges. It may be also advisable to familiarize yourself with the key literature in your field and be prepared to discuss the broader implications of your work.
Where possible, discuss the viva experience with those in your Discipline/School who have recently gone through the process. The Director of Teaching and Learning (Postgraduate) could help facilitate making this connection through an email introduction if students are not aware of who has had a viva voce recently.
Consider availing of the training resources provided by Student Learning Development, for example:
- Viva and oral defence preparation workshops
- Tailored departmental workshops
- Planning and Managing your Research Process (PMRP), 5ECTS module
- Presentation practice and general appointments
- PGR Skills for Success
- Doctorate Research Support Groups
This workshop is focused on the viva and confirmation interview process and provides tips and strategies on how to prepare to a viva and defend your thesis.
These workshops focus on the viva and confirmation interview process and have been developed in collaboration with academics to provide tailored information and cater for specific student needs.
This module provides doctoral candidates with opportunities to develop and enhance their research practice and reflect on their process. The module focuses on self-management, academic and communication skills as well as personal effectiveness and wellbeing.
Throughout the calendar year students are invited to attend individual appointments where they can discuss their viva preparation with an advisor. They are also able to book appointments specifically to do a practice viva presentation to a ‘naive audience’.
Viva preparation workshops are also delivered twice per semester as part of the PG Transition Programme in collaboration with Transition Officer.
Documents and Resources